The US has opened the door to the imposition of new tariffs on China to protect its fishing industry, especially the lobster fishermen, which it considers “the crown jewel” of the sector.
To this end, US President Donald Trump signed a memorandum entitled “Protection of the Lobster Industry”, where he opened the possibility of imposing new taxes on the Asian giant if Beijing does not fulfil its commitment to buy American goods, reports Efe news.
“If those purchase commitments are not met, the US Trade Representative has been instructed to impose reciprocal tariffs on the Chinese fishing industry at his discretion,” White House adviser Peter Navarro told reporters on Wednesday.
The adviser added that Trump orders the US Department of Agriculture in the memo that the same lobster fishermen be provided with the same assistance that has been given to other sectors to protect them from Chinese levies.
The memorandum recalls that the US lobster industry has especially suffered from tariffs imposed by China since 2018 and are currently between 35-37 per cent depending on the species.
Both countries started a trade dispute in 2018 that led to the mutual imposition of tariffs, until in December 2019 they reached an agreement in principle to end the tension.
However, in recent months the relationship has tightened again because both countries have exchanged accusations for the new coronavirus.
The memorandum signed by Trump mentions that, as part of the first phase of the agreement reached in December, Beijing promised to buy large quantities of US manufactures, agricultural products and services.
“Fish, including lobsters, is one of the agricultural products that China has agreed to buy,” the text added, noting that Beijing offered to exclude US imports of lobster from its tariffs.
However, the memo underscores that at the moment “it is not clear” whether such exclusion from the levies will result in an increase in US lobster exports.
Navarro explained, on the other hand, that this document urges the Office of the US Trade Representative to seek recommendations in the next 90 days on how to deal with the loss of market share experienced by US lobster producers in the European Union, due to its trade agreement with Canada.